Nearly 20 percent of U.S. adults smoke cigarettes. Smoking kills about 443,000 people every year and accounts for 1 out of every 5 deaths in the United States. There are many negative side effects from smoking that show up in a variety of diseases and conditions.
Cigarettes are responsible for 30 percent of overall cancer deaths and 87 percent of lung cancer deaths. Lung cancer is hard to treat and often not diagnosed until it is in advanced stages, which accounts for its extremely low survival rate. Cigarettes are a major factor in cancers of the larynx, mouth, throat, bladder and esophagus as well. The following cancers are also linked to smoking, but not as strongly: pancreatic, cervical, kidney, stomach and leukemia.
Cigarettes do severe damage to reproductive organs and newborn children. Women who smoke are more likely to have trouble conceiving and are more likely to experience a miscarriage. Smoking is also linked to premature delivery, stillbirths and low birth weight. There is also a connection to sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
Smoking negatively impacts blood flow to the extremities, resulting in PVD (peripheral vascular disease). PVD can be treated surgically, but the operation will be ineffective if the patient continues to smoke. Many doctors will refuse to do the surgery unless the patient agrees to give up cigarettes. Since erections are linked to blood flow, men who smoke may suffer from erectile dysfunction.
Smoking is responsible for a host of respiratory conditions. It damages air passages and can cause emphysema. Cigarettes also worsen conditions such as pneumonia and asthma. Many longtime smokers suffer from chronic cough and excessive phlegm.
Smoking is directly linked to one-third of all heart disease-related deaths. Smokers are 2 to 4 times more likely to suffer some form of heart disease. Nicotine releases adrenalin into the system and speeds up the heart rate. It causes the arteries to restrict, blood pressure to rise and robs the body of oxygen. Chemicals present in cigarettes cause atherosclerosis and damage arteries and blood vessels.
Other Negative Effects
Smoking affects physical appearance by yellowing skin and teeth. It causes wrinkles and premature aging. Eye damage can occur through macular degeneration or cataracts. Bone thinning and fractures are possible, as well as peptic ulcers.